Ever since she was a young child, Maggie remembers paying attention to the news and then going to the family atlas to look up the areas of the world that were referenced. A lifelong interest in geopolitical issues and the movement of people led her to a new position at MCC Refugee Services as the Team Manager of our Case Management team.
Each step in the immigration process opens up new opportunities for former refugees. Far more than just getting a new id card, an upgrade in immigration status can open the door to new and better jobs, security from deportation, freedom to travel, the right to vote, study in college, and ability to apply for additional family members to join them. We are asked for our immigration status throughout our lives, but most native-born American citizens don’t realize that’s what they’re being asked when they provide their birth certificate at important junctures in life.
The form to apply for US Citizenship may not look overly intimidating. You can view it online easily. But what the average person filling out this 20-page form might not appreciate is the fact that every single question triggers a different provision of US immigration law and that a single error can lead to a denied application or worse, like possible deportation proceedings. This is why seeking assistance from a qualified immigration provider is so critically important.
Mary Kelso, MCC’s Team Coordinator for Intensive Case Management, accompanied Said to a doctor appointment, knowing from previous conversations that he was dealing with a tremendous amount of back pain. When they reached the end of the appointment time, she noticed that the subject of his pain had not come up at all, and she asked permission to share about it with the doctor.
As in many cultures, talking about mental health and seeking treatment for mental illness carries a certain amount of stigma in the Somali community. At a recent Health Connections event in Mankato, Community Health Worker Mohamed Ibrahim wanted to have an open conversation about mental health without triggering the walls people put up when they hear terms like anxiety and depression.
Ten years ago, Mohamed graduated from Medical School in Somalia. He completed training with the International Committee of the Red Cross and began to work in hospitals in Somalia and East Africa. For the next six years he worked with the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders in Somalia and East Africa, helping primarily with emergency medicine and surgery for patients who had been wounded in the civil war. When deteriorating security conditions forced most non-governmental organizations to evacuate the region in 2014, Mohamed applied to join his wife and son in Minnesota.
Minnesota Council of Churches leaders are applauding Gov. Tim Walz’s Feb. 12 announcement that his administration will continue a lawsuit to block the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline, a dangerous and unnecessary project.
Days before Walz’s announcement CEO Rev. Curtiss DeYoung and Director of Racial Justice Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs joined faith leaders at the Capitol calling on the Governor to stop Line 3.
Members of the co-sponsorship team from Holy Trinity Lutheran in Minneapolis worked diligently for weeks collecting furniture, household goods, school supplies, personal hygiene items, and car seats for a Karen family of 9. They also worked to line up drivers, babysitters, shoppers, and a support system to accompany their family through the first difficult weeks in Minnesota. Literally one day before the family was to leave Thailand, MCC Refugee Services received notice that their travel had been cancelled and that there was no plan to reschedule their arrival in Minnesota.
During a recent Teen Tapestry session about home, Amina showed the class a sketch of the tent that had been her family’s home during their refugee years in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. “I was a refugee too, and that’s not what my home looked like,” countered Constance, who arrived as a refugee from South Sudan.
After 12 years as MCC’s Controller, Lisa Bennett and her family are relocating to a new state. In parting, she was kind enough to share this reflection on her work with the Refugee Services program. It could be easy for an accountant to feel distant from the day-to-day work of a direct service program like Refugee Services, but Lisa has truly embraced the work and mission of welcoming refugees. She has been a passionate advocate and supporter, and we will miss her!